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Pat Bowlen gives up control of Broncos, has Alzheimer's

The team confirms to 9NEWS that owner Pat Bowlen has Alzheimers and he will no longer be involved in team operations.
Pat Bowlen is one of 10 Hall of Fame candidates as contributor 

ID=13052777KUSA - Longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has Alzheimer's and will no longer be involved in team operations.

Broncos spokesperson Patrick Smyth told 9NEWS via text message that Bowlen will be focusing on his health.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Broncos President Joe Ellis called it a "sad day" for the organization.

"Pat Bowlen wants us to do two things," Ellis said. "He wants us to win, and he wants everybody here to do things the right way."

On Wednesday, the Broncos released the following statement on Bowlen:

Ellis said the fact that Bowlen "did not walk through the door today" was really hard on the team and staff.

"We'll do right by him," Ellis said. "He will want us to do right by the fans and the community. Bowlen left us a blueprint that is easy to follow, and we will."

Ellis went on to thank the media for not publicizing Bowlen's illness until Wednesday. Ellis also mentioned it's been hard for Bowlen's children to see their father not be able to do what he once did.

His wife, Annabel Bowlen, released the following statement regarding Pat's decision:

"As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer's disease for the last few years. He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, 'It's not about me.'

Pat has always wanted the focus to be solely on the Denver Broncos and the great fans who have supported this team with such passion during his 30 years as owner. My family is deeply saddened that Pat's health no longer allows him to oversee the Broncos, which has led to this public acknowledgment of such a personal health condition.

Alzheimer's has taken so much from Pat, but it will never take away his love for the Denver Broncos and his sincere appreciation for the fans.

My family will stand strong with Pat as he continues his courageous fight against a disease that is unfortunately all too common. One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's, and my family is experiencing the same difficult emotions that so many have felt when someone they love and respect is afflicted with this condition.

Although we wish Pat were in better health, he developed a plan many years ago for the continuation of his values with the hope of keeping the Broncos in the Bowlen family. I know that his goals will be effectively implemented by Joe Ellis, who has worked with Pat for nearly his entire ownership of the Broncos.

Long-term, I fully support Pat's hope of keeping the Denver Broncos in the Bowlen family.

I am extremely proud of Pat's incredible accomplishments as owner of the Broncos, most notably the winning tradition he has established and the positive impact he has made in our community. Pat would be the first to say that none of the Broncos' success would be possible without the players, coaches, employees and fans whom he's shared such a strong connection with over the years.

On behalf of Pat and the rest of my family, I want to thank all Broncos fans for their overwhelming support and how respectful they continue to be of his privacy. We look forward to sharing many more successful seasons of Denver Broncos football with you."

Ellis will take over for Bowlen in the meantime. The Broncos say the ownership of the team is held in a trust in hopes that one of Bowlen's children will run the team one day.

Vice President of Football Operations and former Broncos quarterback John Elway was extremely emotional during Wednesday's press conference.

"What a sad day it is around here," Elway said, fighting back tears. "This place will never be the same."

Elway's voice cracked as he was clearly distraught by Bowlen's condition.

"I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am today without Pat Bowlen," Elway said.

When asked if the team would win games to honor Bowlen, Elway simply answered "we try to do that every year."

Head Coach John Fox spoke after Elway.

"[Bowlen] was out there every day at practice," Fox said. "He's created what we have here. It starts at the top."

Bowlen became the Broncos owner in 1984 after he bought the club from Edgar Kaiser.

He oversaw the Broncos during the team's most productive period in franchise history. He was the owner during the team's two Super Bowl Championships and six AFC titles.

Bowlen has been a part of more than 300 team victories in his 30 years as owner.

There are an estimated five million people in the United States suffering from Alzheimer's.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)